Dillon O’Keefe and his team create Witchy Business

Magic happened when Wacom brought two teams of animation students together and gave them a week to produce 45-second animated shorts. Computer Animation student Dillon O’Keefe was on Team East. Each team collaborated only on Zoom and each team member was paid for the intensive week of work and also received a new Wacom One graphics tablet and animation software to keep.

Witchy Business Still

“True to reality-TV format, says O’Keefe, I went into the challenge not knowing any of the details. They told me I was accepted [chosen from candidates all over the Americas] and asked if I wanted to participate without really telling me what the project entailed or would happen in the coming weeks. Being someone who usually takes chances, I sort of blindly said yes.”

The exercise was not a contest. It is run by Wacom as a series called Cartoon Crunch.

“Cut-throat it wasn’t,” says O’Keefe. “The lack of competition made one less thing we had to worry about.  The West Coast team seemed like they had it together, full of great artists!”

Witchy Business Still

Team East’s concept started with all four team members pitching ideas to each other. O’Keefe says “a team member pitched a story about a witch making a potion to bring back a zombie cat. We all loved that idea and started building on it.”

“Witchy Business starts out with an interesting storyline — especially so near Halloween! The team then came up with great artwork for the pan across the witch’s room,” says Computer Animation Professor John Goodwin. 

O’Keefe says “when you have that immediate collaboration you know it’s the start of a good idea.”

Check out the teams’ finished videos here:

And what changed from start to the final product? That’s documented in a day-by-day video with almost two hours of detail and advice from experienced mentors. (Those who might consider Computer Animation as a major can view it here: Cartoon Crunch Day 5.)

The list of changes includes tweaks like camera angle adjustments and timing. “It’s cool watching it all come together,” says O’Keefe.

Here is what O’Keefe calls a rough animatic, taken from an animated gif to help get the timing and ideas across for what will be the final animation.

Rough animatic by Dillon O’Keefe

O’Keefe notes that Team East members juggled different roles but that “We all had certain strengths and also collaborated on certain things.” He ended up as director, overseeing overall production, and working on story elements, character design, timing, rough and final animation “and then the big final step of editing it all together with color shadows and backgrounds to make it look complete.”

Witchy Business poster

O’Keefe says Cartoon Crunch “really pushed us all to our individual limits. Passion is what drives everything. If you’re motivated and passionate enough, you can create whatever you want.”

There is much more “business” from O’Keefe. Prof. Goodwin says a must-see is Rat City on Shrroms: “It’s another great telling of a story with wonderfully executed art work,” he says.

See more of Dillon’s work at DillonOKeefe.com and on Instagram: @dillon.okeefe. Click here to learn more about our Animation, Interactive Media, & Game Design major.

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